Martin Luther King Jr. is an icon that America and the world will never forget. As Martin Luther King Day approaches, we’ll begin to hear different people repeat the same things we’ve heard about the civil rights leader and Baptist minister. Interestingly, there are some important facts about him that many people don’t know of. This article is dedicated to those things about MLK you probably haven’t heard before.
He wasn’t always Martin Luther King Jr.
On January 15, 1929, Michael King Jr. was born. His father, Michael King Sr., was a pastor in Atlanta. He traveled around the world and got to Germany, where he gained admiration for Martin Luther, a German theologian and Protestant Reformation leader.
Upon his return, Michael King Sr. changed his name and that of his 5-year-old son to honor Martin Luther. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth certificate was officially revised to reflect the change on July 23, 1957.
He was a smart kid
We all know MLK as a legend for his public speaking finesse and anti-violence stance. However, his academic record was exceptional, too. He was so intelligent that he skipped grades 9 and 12.
Martin Luther entered Morehouse College at age 15 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at 19. Benjamin E. Mays, the notable Moorhouse president, convinced Martin to become a Baptist minister. He went to Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pennsylvania, and graduated valedictorian in 1951.
He was imprisoned, many times
It’s not new for activists and civil rights leaders to be hated by people with opposing beliefs. Well, Martin Luther was arrested numerous times as well.
The King went to jail 29 times for civil disobedience and other fabricated, exaggerated charges. He was once arrested and jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone.
He could have died a decade earlier
In 1958, Martin Luther King escaped an assassination attempt by the breadth of a hair. He was signing copies of his book in Harlem when Izola Ware Curry approached him and asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. He confirmed, and she stabbed his chest with a 7-inch letter opener.
The blade narrowly missed his heart, the tip resting alongside his aorta. He went through hours of delicate emergency surgery and convalesced for weeks at the hospital. While at the hospital, he affirmed his nonviolent principles by issuing a statement saying he had no ill feelings toward his attacker.
His last speech should have prepared people for his death
Although his “I Have a Dream” speech is unarguably one of his most famous works, Martin Luther’s last public speech was also very notable. The speech sounded like he was bidding the people farewell.
In April 1968, on the night before his assassination, Martin Luther gave his last speech in Memphis to support the strike of the city’s Black garbage workers. He mentioned that he would like to live a long life, but he was ‘not concerned about that now’; he said he was happy and didn’t fear any man.